The Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) held Activities Night 2.0 from Nov. 1 to Nov. 3. Independent student groups, clubs, athletics groups, and others set up booths on the fourth floor of 2200 Centre Mont-Royal between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. to showcase the breadth of student life at McGill and to encourage students to get involved.
The event was the second Activities Night of the Fall 2021 semester. The first edition, held virtually on the Gather.Town platform, was unsuccessful after a system-wide crash shut down the event. SSMU vice-president (VP) Student Life Karla Heisele Cubilla explained why she decided to host Activities Night 2.0 in person in an email to The McGill Tribune.
“Regulations have significantly changed since Sept. 1,” Heisele Cubilla wrote. “Vaccine passports were implemented, one-metre distancing became possible, and there is a limit of attendees at conventions and conferences. Given these circumstances, an in-person fair event was possible, and it did not violate any health regulations currently placed by the government.”
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, SSMU implemented several protocols, including physically distanced booths, hand-sanitizing stations, and mandatory vaccine passports. There was also a hybrid option—students could join a virtual fair on Zoom to visit all the different booths. Many of those who attended the in-person evening, like Jordan Cowie, U1 Management, felt that it was a welcome change.
“The layout is super cool,” Cowie said in an interview with The McGill Tribune. “[SSMU] designed it very well, and the space is really close to campus, which is fun [….] Through COVID, we really missed that [in-person] communication, so now we are getting that and it is really fantastic.”
Despite Activities Night being held later than usual in the semester—typically it is held mid-September—Cowie was still happy to attend.
“I’m just looking at all the clubs McGill has to offer,” Cowie said. “[McGill] boasts a really robust student body, and I think our clubs represent that. It is really cool to see what everyone else is involved in.”
For many students, the in-person event was their first opportunity to get to know the different clubs at McGill in one place. For some brand new groups, such as the McGill Students’ Blood Donation Association (MSBDA), Activities Night 2.0 was their first chance to introduce themselves to students.
“It is really important to start to build out that network, that community, so [that] we can reach out,” said Gian-Carlo Buonamici, U2 Management and MSBDA VP Finance, who tabled for MSBDA. “Eventually, once we have grown and fundraised for our own blood drives on campus, hopefully we will have that basis of support already there.”
Buonamici, who attended the first two nights as a visitor, echoed Cowie’s statement about participating in the event in person.
“I’ve come for the past two nights as well, and it just feels really good to get a feel for what the McGill community is really like, especially after a year all online,” Buonamici said. “It is nice to see people in person, seeing what people are passionate about, seeing what people are putting their energy towards.”
After two Fall semester Activities Nights, Heisele Cubilla says the SSMU student life team has learned a lot about planning events during the pandemic.
“Activities Night 2.0 was a very successful hybrid event (the first hybrid event of this size at McGill since the pandemic started),” Heisele Cubilla wrote. “Moving forward for the Activities Night Winter 2022 planning, the SSMU team has a structure to build upon and improve the hybrid experience for the next event [….] The event [also] needs to be carried [out] at the beginning of the semester to maximize attendance and participation.”